Magazine of Socialist Action in Australia

NZ: Maori did not cede sovereignty

In November 2014, the Waitangi Tribunal delivered its first report on Treaty of Waitangi claims relating to TePaparahi o teRaki (the Great Land of the North).

By Geraldine Pinao, CWI NZ/Aotearoa

The tribunal found that Maori “agreed to the Governor having authority to control British subjects in New Zealand”, and that the relationship with the Governor would be of one between equals.

The Tribunal concluded by stating that the Maori groups who signed the treaty did not cede sovereignty. While this is in line with the majority of historical scholarship, it is significant that it has been formally acknowledged by a government-funded tribunal.

The immediate response of the Government was to dismiss the findings and enflame racist sentiment. The Treaty Affairs Minister told Pakeha New Zealanders that they could “rest easy in their beds tonight”, while the Prime Minister waded in with his own inaccurate understanding that New Zealand was settled peacefully.

It is important that socialists understand history and recognise the injustices perpetrated by colonialism for capitalist ends. Socialists should support Maori in their movement for tinorangatiratanga or self determination. In its challenge to the existing order, there is an opportunity to raise alternatives to the capitalist state and the oppression on which the country was founded.